Crushed Coral , want to get rid of it.


I currently have a 29g that has been going for two years. The tank has crushed coral on the bottom, I have around 40 pounds of live rock, a mushroom coral, Brain Coral, and several dead corals mixed in. I also have a Maroon Clown, Blue Damsel, Coral Banded shrimp, brittle star and some snails and blue legged hermits. I feed one time a day, sparingly. My problem is I can not get my nitrate (no3) to go down. I have a penguin biowheel filter , a seclone protein skimmer, and two swivel powerheads. I have changed 4 to 5 gallons every other week for the last three months. I can not get my nitrates under 80ppm. I heard if you have crushed coral, you always have nitrate problems. I would like to switch from crushed coral to a sandbed. Is there anyway I can do this safely without striping my Tank and starting over???


It is kinda difficult and for the most part I believe it is fairly high risk. Especially if you have sensitive corals / inverts / fish / or just about anything.
Some will say you can do it by just scooping the CC out and replacing with sand... leaving the critters to deal with a detrius storm... i for one don't think that is a great idea.
Broomer5 did a good write up about the process that was used when he switched over his tanks... if he happens upon this thread hopefully he will post it.
In essence what it says is get a few rubbermaid containers w/ a powerhead and heater in each of them... transfer your saltwater and all your critters into them.... clean out your tank and then put everything (minus CC) back in again.
I have not done it myself but that is basically the process I would use. I believe the key is getting your critters to a 'fairly' stable environment (i.e - not one that is kicking up a whole bunch nitrates and who knows what else when you go rumaging around the crushed coral).
Also if you do that don't forget to put a trash bag over your sand so when you put all the water back in it doesn't could up the tank...
In closing... it can be done as long as you are careful :)
Good luck! Hope that helps.


Oh yeah I noticed your post count and let me be the first to say "welcome to the board".
hah! I've never been the first to say that before. I feel special :D


First let me say Welcome to the board. I would add this to NaCL-Man's statement when you take the livestock out put it in a seperate container than the lr save all the water from your tank and you will prbably need to put some of the cc in a net bag to add the bacteria back into your tank It would probably be better idf you could get some ls from an established tank and put it on top of the other sand.( that's what I did when I added a deeper sand bed to my tnak) I tried the garbage bag on the sand and it did not work for me so we put a small bucket in the tank and poured the water in that way. the less you disturb the sand bed the less clouding you will have and the faster your tank will clear it will be a little cloudy but this will not hurt the fish. Good Luck and keep us posted on how it goes.
I also have a minor nitrate prob most likely due to having crushed coral. I have the same size tank, 29 gal. but have no corals, only inverts and fish.


New Member
I have a 55 gal reef set up. It has been up and running for 1 year now. But like every one else in this string I can not get my nitrates down and I have CC base. I was wondering if every time I did a water change I sucked out the CC not disturding the silt thats just under the surface.
For filtering I have 1 Fluval 304, 1 hang on the back filter mostly for water movement, as well as 1 power head. I know i need a skimmer but I am very confused about the kind of skimmer I need. I have been reading in this forum for a while now, I do not want one that sits inside of the tank I have that one and do not use it. I cant put my lights on the tank properly.


i just recently changed from cc to ls and let me say it looks wonderful and it stays clean and my levels are thing i do recommend though id to save a lot of water from your tank, like more than 50% to put back into your tank... i made the mistake of not doing that and i lost about $150 worth of livestock by making a simple error...again ls is great just make sure you transferyour old water back into your tank


twoharts some research on the seaclone skimmer made by aquarium systems... i just bought it and its great...and it hangs on the back so your lights will fit...only 62.99 on


New Member

Let me say thanks for the responces.
I sent my LFS a e-mail this morning and asked her to order the Seaclone 100 skimmer for me. I am going on vacation and I will be able to pick it up when I get back.
Saving my water is a good idea, and I will use it.
I have about 75 lb of live rock and i have numerous soft corals,
1 Fire clown
1 6 line Rass
1 Tang
3 3stripe damsels
1 yellow damsel
1 lawn mower Blenny
1 Gold and black Cromis (so upset that no one told me he would be a demon with fins)
and his buddy the 1 yellow dotty back.
these last 2 are going back to the LFS.
I do feed 2 times a day, in the am they get a small pinch of flakes, and night the food varies from frozzen brine to frozzen veg, to flakes, and not always every night.
my next question.
Should I soak the sand in a bucket with water from my tank, a heater and a power head, for a few days?
thanks in advance.


Active Member
Broomer5 did a good write up about the process that was used when he switched over his tanks... if he happens upon this thread hopefully he will post it.
I happened upon this thread NaCL-Man :)
novafreakjj - Personally I would not try and remove the crushed coral without first removing everything from the tank.
It will foul the water - and foul water leads to fish/inverts stress.
Extreme stress may lead to disease or death.
It may sound like a do-able thing, and I'm sure others have done it this way .... but in my opinion, starting fresh is the best in your case. Best for your critters, and in the long run better for the health of the tank.
I changed out a 55 gallon reef tank with very nasty crushed coral substrate .... to a 75 gallon tank with DSB in one weekend.
The 75 was going in the same location in the room as the 55 - so you can imagine my situation. I had to tear one down - and set the other up in it's place.
There are a lot of details that need to be covered here - but the one key is taking care of the water. If you take care of the water - the water can take care of the fish/inverts and bacteria.
The other key is whether you have a lot of live rock, or you are using some other filter. Keeping the filter running and the rock in warm moving water is also very important.
I bought several inexpensive rubbermaid type plastic containers, rinsed them out first with tapwater and dried them.
Get as many containers as you need ( gallons ) but only fill them up half way or so. They tend to bow out some - and it's better to have two 30's filled halfway - than one 30 filled to the rim.
All of the aragonite sand was purchased - buy more than you think you'll need. Spare heaters/powerheads are required as well. If you plan to do a water change during the swap - have your mixed aerated saltwater ready the night before.
Basically you siphon off about half the tank water to the plastic containers. Place a heater/powerhead in each container.
Keep the water moving.
Keep the water warm - same temp as tank.
If you have a hang on filter - hang it on the container and turn it on.
You want to keep ALL FILTER MEDIA wet, warm and running.
Remove some of the live rock and place in the containers.
Remove some of your corals - gently place them in these containers.
Once you get all out of the tank - it's easy to net your fish at this point.
Net them - and place in the container. No need to acclimate them - they are going into the same water.
Siphon off some more of the tank water into these rubbermaid holding containers.
Leave an inch or so of water in the tank, so you don't suck up any substrate or crud. Gather up all your crawling inverts - and yep ~ you got it - place them in the containers.
Siphon off the rest of the tank water and discard to a bucket/drain.
Now comes the nasty part - but it goes fast if you keep at it.
Scoop out all of the nasty crushed coral and throw it away. If you want to keep some for bacterial seeding of your new sandbed - you can place some of this cc in pantyhose or filter media bag and tie it off. Toss this in the container with your container of warm moving water.
Keep scooping out all of the CC until it's gone.
Rinse out the tank - it will smell pretty bad if it's been up awhile.
Just rinse all the crap out - and if you want - now's a good time to do some inner tank wall scraping/cleaning.
No detergents - no soap - no bleach - just warm tapwater, plastic scraper and rinse out well.
Check your temperature in your container often. What you want is for this container(s) to be identical in temp/salinity that you tank was.
Place the tank back on the stand.
Lay down your sandbed to desired depth.
Normally 4-6 inches of sugar size aragonite is good if you want a deep sandbed. Less sand if you prefer a shallow sandbed. Up to you.
Place a clean glass bowl on the sandbed - and "pump" some of the water from these holding containers back into this bowl. If you don't have a spare pump - pour water in slowly with a clean plastic or glass pitcher.
Doing it this way will keep the new sandbed from getting all stirred up. It will help a lot.
Keep adding saltwater until you have it about a 1/3rd full.
Now add some of your live rock back. Start with the base and build up your stack.
Add some more saltwater.
Add some more rock.
Continue doing this - but leave a little room at top - in other words - don't add all the water back until you get everything back in the tank.
Add your corals/inverts.
Top off the tank with rest of saltwater - or add a little new mixed.
Power up your filters, equipment, powerheads, heaters and get the water moving again in the tank.
Net your fish and add them back.
Some folks will acclimate them back into the tank.
If the water is same, and was kept at same temp - you should be okay. I was.
Gather up the last few hermits, snails or whatever else is left in the containers and get them back into the tank too.
Clean up your mess.
Now ....... the disclaimer.
It took me two days to do this. The reason being, I did a rather large water change at this point as well.
I kept the fish and corals in these containers "overnight" with heater/powerhead in each vessel. I had three containers - all going at once.
I don't recommend doing a large water change if you have delicate species.
The next day the water was much clearer - and I had no hesitation moving forward with the rest of the procedure.
My fish, crawling inverts and corals ALL made this transition without a single loss.
If you just set up these rubbermaid or sterilite plastic containers - and keep the water warm and moving - just as you would any other tank - the chances of losing your fish/inverts, corals and BACTERIA are low.
If you do NOT keep the water at temp and moving/circulated - you risk losing much.
It's not difficult - it just takes time and a great deal of attention to the details.
BTW - this is just ONE way to make the swap.
It worked for me. It may not be the best - nor is it the worst.
I just moved my 75 reef tank from upstairs to downstairs 2 weeks ago, using this exact same method. Once again - no cloudy tank, new sandbed and most important - no losses.
Good luck however you choose to do it novafreakjj


One other thing you could do is use a wet/dry vac. I haven't used this method personally, but saw this mentioned in another thread. You can suck out the CC with a wet/dry vac, separate the CC and the detrius from the water and put your water back , or this can be part of one of your water changes and you can just get rid of it. You can use rubber maid containers to cure your sand ahead of time (several threads on the board about this) and once the CC is gone replace it with the cured LS and you shouldn't have to worry about a detrius storm or recycling the tank.


New Member
:) Thank you very much.
I printed out the instructions and will gather up the materials I need.
I am having a difficult time finding Southdown sand or Yard right or Newcastle. My local Home Depot does not carry it.
I have found play sand by Quick Crete however looking over the bag I can not find the incredients list to see if its silica or argonite. (sp?)
When I do this change over should I expect a new cycle. After all I am removing a LOT of bacterial.